Traveling is one of the great passions of my life and I have traveled through all continents. Kerala was one of the most special places I have been to.
My journey to Kerala was life changing. Kerala is the southernmost tip of India. Local population of kerala is known as keralites, malayalees or mallus. It is not the India you have seen in the TV. Everything about Kerala is different. This is not an India of snake charmers, beggars or slums that keeps popping up in the TV screens, Hollywood movies or BBC articles
To say Kerala is beautiful is a huge understatement. People call it gods own country and you don’t give a name like that without a valid reason. Kerala is the whole package. Kerala has a Great culture, people, food, and nature is at its best. Women are empowered in Kerala. An age old tradition of matrilineal inheritance made women very independent and empowered in Kerala society.
I have been to all of India, Kerala a country with-in a country. More than 20 percentage of this green state is forest. People are near 100% educated, living conditions are better than in the west. There is a hospital, church and a school in every 1 mile. Kerala has a very low population growth, Economy grows above 10%. Keralalites have one of the oldest Christian populations in the world. Syrian Christians or Nasranis of Kerala are 1st century Christians and their churches are among the oldest and grandest in the world. Legend says they were converted by St: Thomas himself. Hinduism and Islam are other two main religions in Kerala. Kerala is a perfect example of a working multiculturalism.
Kerala is a land full of beautiful backwaters. Around 44 rivers make this land very fertile and green. Cold, Green and beautiful hill station of Munnar is the favourite summer retreat of keralites. Tea counties, beautiful valleys and rivers make it a heaven on earth. KTDC Tea County is the perfect place to explore Munnar. And nearby Thekkady is a beautiful wild life sanctuary with a gorgeous artificial lake and lot of tigers. Yes, the real king of jungle is there in plenty!
Cochin is hot and it is a very cosmopolitan city. It is called the queen on Arabian Sea. It has beautiful beaches nearby, Chinese fishing nets and sun set at Cochin is a must see. Cochin has one of the biggest malls in Asia, if you are into a bit of shopping.
Kerala have plenty of toddy shops. Toddy is a local alcohol from coconut and it is all natural, healthy and tasty. Toddy parlours have the real authentic malayalee food and some hard-core food items that are only available in toddy parlours. It is spicy and hot so it is not for the faint hearted. Kerala fish dishes are a must eat. Green frog is a beauty and no other Indian state makes meat dishes better than mallus. Most of the keralites are non-vegetarian’s. Even malayalee Hindus eat beef. Different beef dishes are a speciality in Kerala. During my travel around Kerala, I have met many Mappilas of Kerala (Muslims) who drink alcohol and party real hard like the rest of Keralalites. In general malayalees are not ultra-religious people and makes really good travel companions.
My next stop was Alappuzha, known as the Venice of the east and it is nearby the world famous kumarakom, the backwater country. I took a houseboat from Alappuzha to kumarakom. I used Rajahamsam house boat and it was a beauty. It has 2 Luxury air conditioned bedrooms, balcony, cook, driver, & cleaner, and all for just few dollars. Try karimeen pollichathu and konchu fry on house boat, it’s tasty. I enjoyed beautiful vembanattu lake for 2 days and it was one of the most memorable times of my life.
Don’t forget to check out kathakali , the folk dance of Kerala and kalaripayattu one of the most ancient martial arts of the world. Bodhidharma the great kalaripayattu master is still loved in china and known as the great grandmaster of shaolin temple. Taking some time off from busy life schedule and studying kalaripayattu would be a good idea. Explore a bit of Ayurveda. Ayurveda is an ancient way of living and medicine in Kerala and it is very effective, give it a try. Staying few months in laid back countryside state of Kerala is a win-win situation.
Author is a “Serial Backpacker” and works in tourism sector. He was in Kerala for a long time so this is just a little overview of his very long vacation in Kerala. If you would like to check out great backpacks, check this website on converse backpacks: http://www.conversebackpack.com